(WPR) -- Kyle Rittenhouse has been found not guilty on all charges stemming from his shooting of three people and killing two during police protests in Kenosha last year.
A jury of what appeared to be seven white women, four white men and one man of color took four days to render their verdicts. The original jury pool included 18 people, but was reduced to 12 people Tuesday morning when Rittenhouse used an old-fashioned wooden tumbler and pulled six jurors' numbers to serve as alternates.
As the verdict was read, Rittenhouse, 18, cried. Once all verdicts were read, he fell to the floor and had to be picked up and set in his chair.
His mother, Wendy Rittenhouse, sat in the courtroom throughout the more than two-week trial. The Rittenhouse family appeared in the court for the first time Friday since Monday. They immediately left after the verdict was read.
Some family of Jacob Blake, the Black man who was shot by Kenosha police on Aug. 23, 2020, two days before Rittenhouse came to Kenosha, was outside the courthouse while the verdict was read. Justin Blake, Jacob's uncle, was there during the trial and verdict.
Earlier this week, Justin said he wanted people to focus on the two people killed by Rittenhouse: Joseph Rosenbaum, 36, and Anthony Huber, 26.
"To see these young men lose their lives, to see their families have to go through worse than we went through, to see the weakness and the underbelly of this country and how the racism runs from the courtroom to the police station to the mayor's office — they all have blood on their hands for the mishandling of that whole entire night," Justin said after the verdict.
As the verdict was read, the crowd outside the courthouse began to swell. Vehicles began to drive by honking, and some people expressed happiness with the verdict.
One person driving past the courthouse yelled "Justice served American style."
Rittenhouse initially faced seven criminal charges but Kenosha Circuit Court Judge Bruce Schroeder dismissed a misdemeanor charge of possession of a dangerous weapon by a minor Monday. Rittenhouse's defense attorneys argued a Wisconsin statute prohibiting minors from possessing firearms includes an exemption if a rifle or shotgun is of a certain length. Schroeder agreed. A curfew charge was dismissed last week.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys presented radically different depictions of Rittenhouse's actions and motivations on the evening of Aug. 25, 2020, when he shot and killed Rosenbaum and Huber, and wounded Gaige Grosskreutz. Prosecutors called him a "chaos tourist" whose recklessness cost two lives. Defense attorneys described him as "a 17-year-old kid out there trying to help this community."
The five remaining charges included:
- Count 1: Rittenhouse was found not guilty of first-degree reckless homicide, use of a dangerous weapon. This felony charge is connected to the death of Rosenbaum, the first man Rittenhouse shot.
- Count 2: Rittenhouse was found not guilty of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon. This charge is connected to reporter Richie McGinnis, who was in the line of fire when Rosenbaum was shot.
- Count 3: Rittenhouse was found not guilty of first-degree recklessly endangering safety, use of a dangerous weapon. Videos show Rittenhouse being kicked by an unknown man and then shooting at him. That is what this charge is related to.
- Count 4: Rittenhouse was found not guilty of first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon. This felony charge is connected to the death of Huber, the second man Rittenhouse shot.
- Count 5: Rittenhouse was found not guilty of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon. This charge is connected to the shooting of Grosskreutz. Grosskreutz is the third man Rittenhouse shot.
The Rittenhouse case has captured national attention because it grapples with issues of policing, race and the right to self-protection.
The two-week trial featured dramatic testimony, as well as extensive footage of the shootings used by both the state and the defense. Rittenhouse took the stand last week, insisting he had fired only to defend himself.
The trial was marked by combative exchanges between Schroeder and lead prosecutor Thomas Binger. And many of the judge’s rulings have appeared to favor the defense.
Kenosha resident Elizabeth Webb, who is Black and works for an organization called My Sister's House, was outside the courthouse Tuesday. She said "the ignorance and bias" she's seen in the courtroom has been "appalling." Webb said that if her son was in front of the judge trying Rittenhouse, he wouldn't get the same treatment.
"Black and brown boys would have been shot down in the street, and if they made it to court, they would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, nothing would have been eliminated out of court," said Webb. "They're protecting him, they've been protecting him, it's shameful, and it's sickening"
Last Friday, Gov. Tony Evers authorized 500 Wisconsin Army National Guard troops to be ready to come to Kenosha to support local police.
Last Update: Nov 19, 2021 1:04 pm CST